Although the Constitution of Vanuatu contains general human rights protections for all citizens irrespective of “race, place of origin, religious or traditional beliefs, political opinions, language or sex,” there is no explicit mention of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sexual characteristics (SOGIESC). Vanuatu decriminalised same-sex sexual conduct in 2007, and it should be noted that there is very limited data on the LGBT+ population in the country, because government census data does not explicitly measure their experiences.
There is no administrative or legal procedure in Vanuatu that explicitly recognise and protects the rights of transgender people. Vanuatu also does not provide for a legal framework to recognise and protect the rights of intersex people.
Vanuatu has endorsed all UN resolutions that have a SOGIESC-focus (e.g, the UN General Assembly statement on SOGI rights as human rights (2008); the UNHRC resolution to document all discriminatory laws, practices, and acts of violence against SOGI people in member states (2011), and the UNHRC resolution to appoint an independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (2016)), but there is almost no national legal protection against discrimination towards LBTI people in healthcare, employment, housing, or education.
As it stands, same sex conduct is not illegal. However, although the Vanuatu Constitution contains general human rights protections for citizens regardless of “race, place of origin, religious or traditional beliefs, political opinions, language or sex,” there is no explicit mention of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI).
There are almost no legal protections against discrimination toward SOGI persons in employment, education, health care, housing, and the provision of goods and services. The only mentions to date are in the Teaching Service Act 2013, which forbids the Vanuatu Teaching Service Commission from discriminating on the basis of “sexual preference” in employment, and in the National Youth Authority Act, which includes “those . . . of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity” in its definition of youth.
The last State party report was submitted in 2014 and contained no LBTI specific information.
Vanuatu has not received a SOGIESC-focused recommendation from the CEDAW Committee yet. The Committee’s Concluding Observations to Vanuatu were very focused on the heteropatriarchal relationship between men and women, both in the public and private spheres.
The List of Issues and the State party’s report did not contain any SOGIESC-specific questions or commentary. A general recommendation by the Committee for women in Vanuatu on ensuring access to all mainstream health services, including sexual and reproductive health services may be applicable to all LBTI people in the country.